Vol. 17: The BeatBearing Tangible Rhythm Sequencer

The BeatBearing is an exciting and intuitive way to make music. Move the balls on a grid, and you change the beat. Music sequencing couldn't be simpler.

By Peter Bennett

Photos by Peter Bennett

Illustrations by Tim Lillis

+ Downloads & Extras:

BeatBearing Links

BeatBearing website and forum

Peter Bennett's home page with BeatBearing news

BeatBearing demo video

Project code bundle (zip file):

Arduino code

Processing code

Ableton Live code and samples

Pin and wire alternatives to washer switches (PNG)

CAD drawing of transparent grid base (PDF)

Wiring schematic diagram (PDF)

Multiplexer wiring/addressing (PDF)

Multiplexer pinouts:



BeatBearing Inspirations

Tenori-On is a new instrument designed by Toshio Iwai and Yamaha that consists of a 16x16 grid of buttons, each of which can be lit up. The player can use his fingers to draw shapes across the screen, which trigger various types of sequencer-like patterns.

Reactable, developed at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, is a tangible musical instrument that allows the positioning of blocks on an augmented interactive tabletop to generate music. This project is inspiring due to its use of clear visuals that show the functionality and relationship of each of the blocks. And the tracking software is free, allowing you to develop your own system.

The Monome is another grid-based interface similar to the Tenori-On. I like its openness to modification and use in different applications.

The Audiopad was my first introduction to tangible user interface (TUI)-based musical instruments.

MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group

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